Murray Avenue Kosher owner Aryeh Markovic said that he was surprised to find the curbs painted purple near his store in Squirrel Hill. Milky Way manager Aaron Siebzener said the restaurant was given no advance notice, either.
“We just saw them one day,” Siebzener said. “They put up cameras outside and, boom, they were here.”
The smart loading zones are part of a pilot program launched earlier in Oakland and downtown neighborhoods. Bloomfield, Lawrenceville, the South Side Flats and the North Shore will soon be included as well.
According to the city’s website, Pittsburgh was awarded a $10,000 grant from Automotus to create more efficient and safer curbside loading zones. The program goals include:
• Aligning parking and loading policies with real-time data
• Decreasing emissions from unnecessary idling and circling
• Reducing parking-caused traffic by 20% and double-parking by 60%
• Generating additional revenue from parking and loading
• Increasing parking turnover for restaurants and small businesses
• Improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists and other curb users
• Increasing delivery efficiency and reducing dwell time
For Siebzener, increasing parking turnover is a non-issue. He hasn’t seen a car parked near the new lilac areas since they’ve been painted. He’s more concerned about the price of parking and the loss of spaces for vendors stopping to drop off products and customers who pop in to pick up food.
“That was a quick loading zone to just drop off or grab something,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone park in the purple zone now. It’s pretty expensive from what I understand.”
The cost of pricing in the zones increase the longer a person is parked there. It is 7 cents for the first five minutes, 14 cents per minute for 5 to 15 minutes, 20 cents per minute for 15 to 30 minutes and 17 cents for each additional minute up to an hour, Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. According to Pittsburgh City Councilmember Barb Warwick, there is a 5 minute “grace period” before the clock starts. There are no charges on Sundays.
The hope, Warwick said, is that the zones will encourage “off-peak deliveries early in the morning or late at night by large trucks that take longer to unload and also tend to impede traffic flow.”
The price to park on non-purple Murray Avenue spots using the Park Mobile app is $2 an hour.
“It’s a ridiculous amount of money,” said Markovic. “This is just a money grab by the city.”
Despite various news reports, he said, no one from the city spoke with store employees about the program before it was implemented.
He expressed displeasure with the locations of the purple spots, saying they seemed to be mostly in front of Murray Avenue storefronts where people need to come in and out quickly.
Any aims of alleviating congestion were not well planned, Markovic said.
“This is going to lead to a lot of double-parking on Murray and more traffic congestion,” he said, opining that “it’s just it’s another way that the city is trying to hurt businesses.”
The new parking situation also may force him to raise prices, he said, because delivery people won’t absorb the added cost of parking on the street, and he’ll have to pass those increases on to customers. And that’s before the added time he’ll have to pay his employees if they are required to unload trucks from further away.
Even if his customers can avoid the purple curbs, he said it will affect business further down Murray, by Milky Way.
“They’re going to get killed,” Markovic said.
Chronicle calls to the City of Pittsburgh and Automotus were not returned. PJC
David Rullo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.